KS Republicans Sweep Statewide Races
Lawrence, KS – Republicans swept races for statewide office in Kansas. Kansas statehouse reporter Stephen Koranda has more on how the 2010 election played out in the state.
Secretary of State:
Results last updated November 3rd at 8am.
GOP Victories Push KS Government To Right ~ John Hanna, Associated Press
Kansas voters have shoved their state government hard to the right after nearly two decades of governors who followed a more moderate course, vetoing anti-abortion legislation and raising taxes to forestall deep budget cuts.
Republican Sam Brownback, a U.S. senator known previously for his opposition to abortion and gay marriage, easily won the governor's race in Tuesday's election. He's already said the state needs to reduce spending, and abortion foes anticipate that new restrictions on clinics will become law.
While outgoing Gov. Mark Parkinson and other Democrats have said the state's finances are now solid, Brownback's view is more pessimistic - and more likely to lead to cuts next year. His critics fear that social services and state aid to public schools will be targeted. His supporters expect less regulation and a stronger pro-business tilt from state agencies.
But Kansas' conservative shift doesn't stop with Brownback. The new Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, is a Kansas City-area law professor who helped write Arizona's new immigration law. He'll push for a law requiring all voters to show photo identification at the polls.
And Derek Schmidt, the new GOP attorney general, though not seen has a hard-core social conservative, has promised to join other states' legal challenges of the federal health care law passed this year - something his Democratic predecessor, Steve Six, refused to do. The Legislature appears likely to be more conservative, too.
The favorable political climate for Republicans helped the party sweep all statewide and congressional offices on the Kansas ballot for the first time since 1964. The state appeared to take a step closer to neighbors like Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas in political orientation. Gone is talk that a red state was turning purple.
"You can say we're a few years behind a state like Oklahoma,"which is solidly conservative and Republican, said Derek Sontag, state director of the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity. "I think the people have said it's time to catch up."
The new governor will have more help in the Kansas House, where Democrats appeared to lose 17 of their 49 seats. The GOP should have a better than two-thirds majority in the 125-member chamber and shatter the coalition of Democrats and GOP moderates that passed a tax increase this year.
Brownback emphasized fiscal issues during his successful gubernatorial campaign against Democratic state Sen. Tom Holland. He's promised to establish an "Office of the Repealer" to look for laws and regulations to spike and to freeze overall state spending.
But he's hinted that a freeze in spending might not be enough to keep the state's budget in balance for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Legislative researchers have pegged the potential deficit at close to $500 million - a figure disputed by Parkinson's administration.
"There are a fair number of areas that we can no longer afford to do, that are not a core function of government," Brownback said.
Less conservative Kansans find such comments unnerving. About 88 percent of the state's tax dollars are spent on education or social services.
"He'll be in office for eight years, and he'll dismantle, either directly or through cutting the budgets of, many valuable social service agencies," said Ralph Hoover, a 70-year-old retired probation officer and social worker from Topeka, who voted a straight Democratic ticket.
Brownback's supporters contend the new GOP governor will look for ways to make state agencies more efficient, and he's said he wants to make sure a greater percentage of education dollars get into the classroom.
While Brownback emphasizes economic issues, abortion opponents are looking to push new regulations for clinics and other restrictions that have fallen to vetoes by Govs. Bill Graves, Kathleen Sebelius and Parkinson.
"Kansas has always been a state in which the right wing extremists have tried to exercise a great deal of influence," said Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
But Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, said it anticipates not only new laws but perhaps stricter oversight of doctors and clinics by state agencies. Also,she said, Brownback's views on issues such as embryonic stem cells are in line with her group's opposition.